I've recently stepped into the world of submitting my digital pictures online and having them mailed to me. I previously had been using the Costco one hour service, which was convenient but at $0.17 a 4x6 it isn't the best deal in town. One of the blogs I check on a daily basis, BabyCheapskate, posts coupon codes for multiple photo printing sites and so I decided to embark on a test to see where I could find the best deal without sacrificing quality.
So far I have ordered from Snapfish and Winkflash. The photos from Winkflash have arrived. Click the Read More link to see what I thought of their prices, upload utilities, and quality. It is a pretty lengthy review.
Let's start with speed. I ordered my pictures from Snapfish and Winkflash on the same day (09/28). Technically Snapfish was ahead by several hours. Both orders shipped on October 1. I received my Winkflash order on October 3, but have yet to receive the Snapfish order.
Next onto Ease of upload/ordering. Snapfish definitely wins this category. They have an upload utility which installs through the browser and is very easy to use. My only complaint is that you can only upload from one folder at a time, so if your pictures are in multiple places you will have to go through the upload process multiple times.
The other pet peeve is that Snapfish offers a "Select More Photos to Upload" button while the last batch is in the process of uploading. In theory, it works great. In practice, if you haven't selected all the photos to upload by the time the first set finishes, you are redirected away from the page where you were selecting photos to upload. Could result in a lot of wasted time. In fact it did result in a lot of wasted time for me.
On to Winkflash. They have several different options for uploading photos although none are particularly elegant or fast. The Drag/Drop and File Browser options use Java Applets or Active X and both are terribly slow and produce security errors, at least on my machine. I ended up using the "Transporter" which is an application that you download and select the files to upload that way. The application worked well enough but when it came time to upload the photos to Winkflash it took much longer than it should have considering we have High Speed Internet. It would also get about 90% of the way through and encounter some kind of error and restart the uploading process. It took just over an hour to upload 48 pictures. That was choosing the "Fast Upload" option which supposedly compressed the files for faster uploading. Yikes!
The Winkflash shopping cart also gave me some difficulties. I was using their coupon code to get 4x6 prints for $.06. I was also ordering a handful of 5x7 prints. I had my shopping cart all set up and then went to apply the coupon for the cheaper 4x6 prints. The code worked fine but all of the 5x7 prints were automatically removed from my cart. Lame! I was able to add them back in, but had I not been paying attention I could have missed that they had been removed.
Quality - I can only speak to the quality of the Winkflash at this time, but I would say they were just as good as I had been getting at Costco. I typically go through my photos and make any adjustment to color/contrast/lighting/etc myself before I submit for printing. Winkflash has an "Image Enhancement" option which was turned on, but it didn't seem to do much. I had one photo that probably should have had the contrast adjusted and the Image Enhancement option did not do anything. It was my own fault, but beware that your images might not be enhanced quite as advertised.
Now what everyone is interested in... PRICE. Utlizing coupon codes and "new account" freebies I was able to get some good deals between the two sites.
I ended up getting 20 4x6 prints from Snapfish for $1.05 shipped. That was 20 free prints for a new account, and a coupon code to take $0.99 off the cost of shipping. Sales tax was $0.06.
Their shipping is a little complicated to figure out, but they do have a table that you can follow located here: http://www2.snapfish.com/shippingpricingtablespopup
Print Pricing guide here: http://www2.snapfish.com/storeprints
Winkflash has a coupon code advertised on their main page to get 4x6 prints for $0.06 each. They also advertise $0.99 shipping for unlimited 4x6 prints. The two offers can not be used together.
I ended up getting 43 - 4x6's and 4-5x7's for $4.03 with $3.39 in shipping for a total of $7.42. The 5x7 prints were $0.29 and I opted for the $0.06 coupon code. Here are links for shipping costs and a complete pricing guide.
Print Pricing guide: http://www.winkflash.com/content/pricelist.asp
I realize the price comparison isn't exactly apples to apples, but I ran about 10 different scenarios for the quantity and size of prints I needed and that was the best deal I came up with between the two.
If you have made it this far into the post, congrats. Here is a link to the current coupon codes as posted at Baby Cheapskate. Note that this month Winkflash is offering 100 new prints for new sign-ups. Also be sure to search on your favorite search engine for coupon codes, you never know what you might find.
I plan next to try PEPhoto which boasts $0.08 prints all the time and is having a summer special at $0.06.